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August 14, 2009

'Nummer Acht (#8) everything is going to be alright' — by Guido van der Werve

If you liked the trailer above, you'll love the full-length (10 minutes) version, currently showing at the Hirshhorn Museum in the Black Box video room.

Jessica Dawson, in her review of the film in today's Washington Post, quoted van der Werve as saying that "dwelling in melancholy is definitely one of my favorite activities."

Just the thing if you're having one of those days.

Here's the review.

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Guido van der Werve's Pas de Deux on Ice

If you're prone to depression, you might want to skip the Guido van der Werve film currently on view at the Hirshhorn.

Then again, maybe you should go. Because if there's one kind of person this Amsterdam-based artist understands, it's you, depressives.

Last year, van der Werve, 32, said in an interview that "dwelling in melancholy is definitely one of my favorite activities." The artist's "definitely" signaled not only his enthusiasm for sadness but his quirky sense of humor, too. Both are on display in his recent series of short films. In one, he's hit by a car and then a troupe of ballerinas performs a short number around his dead body. Another film finds the artist building a rocket meant to return a meteorite back to space. Black humor, futility, death -- they're all here.

"Nummer Acht (#8) everything is going to be alright," the 10-minute film on view in the Hirshhorn's Black Box video room, is part of this same series. But its humor is less palpable and its bleakness more profound.

When "Nummer Acht" opens, everything is not all right. After a few seconds of a soundless, white-titles-on-black background screen, a blinding whiteness and massive roar shock us into high alert. The opening image will carry us through the film's full 10 minutes: We see a lone, black-clad man walking toward us on a seemingly endless ice sheet. He is trailed -- methodically, menacingly -- by a massive icebreaker, a behemoth of a ship lumbering through expanses of seemingly immovable ice.

We are in the Gulf of Bothnia, the northernmost expanse of the Baltic Sea near a Finnish port town. Van der Werve took a small crew there to film his 2007 pas de deux with the icebreaker Sampo. The ship towers over van der Werve's minuscule figure. It's a beast of a machine, confidently biting through the floe as ice crumbles against its powerful hull. The monster is largely faceless: Its black and white prow is many times larger than its above-deck operations tower, and there's no sign of life inside.

Both boat and figure move in lockstep. Van der Werve continues forward while the icebreaker keeps pace. The scene appears as if it could go on indefinitely. To suggest just such an endless journey, van der Werve ends the film as suddenly as it began, snapping back to a silent black screen and final credits.

What to make of this? Though the action is minimal, the psychology is intense. The stark image of man pursued by industrial beast glues us to our seats. When will the man fall tragically through the ice? When will he break into a run? Will the ship give up pursuit? As time passes and it becomes clear that, in fact, nothing will happen next, the film turns into a philosophical exercise.

The artist's steady progress -- neither a march nor an amble, it's the walk of a distracted window shopper or a tourist determined to blend in -- turns into a metaphor for our journey through life. The beast at his tail stands in for the demons that accompany us from childhood unto death.

Though the figure appears unaware of the monster behind him, he never wavers in his forward march, suggesting that he knows better than to stop. As viewers, we feel at first as if we know something that our hero doesn't. His walk appears too relaxed, he must not know what's behind him. Yet as the film progresses, we begin to understand that he probably does know. He just wants to keep moving.

As we watch, we begin to understand. The ship becomes a little less menacing. We, like van der Werve, are getting comfortable with our demons.

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Through October 11, 2009.

August 14, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?

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Answer here this time tomorrow.

August 14, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Nautilus Shell House

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From a website:

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"This amazing house was build in 2006 by Arquitectura Orgánica.

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A young couple with two children from Mexico City

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who after living in a conventional home

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wanted to change to one integrated with nature.

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The goal of this project was to make them feel like

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symbiotic dwellers in a huge maternal fossil cloister,

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moving from one chamber to another."

[via Milena]

August 14, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Accordion Speaker — Shades of early cameras

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From a website:

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USB/Battery-Powered Folding Accordion Speaker

Folds flat for travel — works open or flat.

Accordion-style design creates a large resonance chamber and makes the sound richer than most other small speakers and built-in amplifier makes the unit much louder.

Connect the (included) USB cable to any USB port or insert 2 AAA batteries (not included), then connect the 1/8" (3.5mm) min jack to the media player or game of your choice.

Turn speaker on, then adjust volume directly through the computer or media device.

Specs: 2 watts rms/2.5-5V, input sensitivity 260mV; frequency range 160-20KHz.

3.5" x 4.5" x 1.5" thick (folded).

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$13.99.

[via Marianne Rohrlich and the New York Times]

August 14, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Darren Garnick's Excellent Fish Pedicure Adventure

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Long (and it is long) and entertaining story short: bookofjoe reader Darren Garnick this past Tuesday emailed me regarding my Fish Pedicure post of June 13, 2009, as follows:

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"Curious what it's like to do this? See "My First Forbidden Fish Pedicure."

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Photos from his experience above.

August 14, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Channel 'The Baroness' — Wear her shades

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Above and below, Sienna Miller in

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"G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." 

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It'll cost you: $275–$290.

August 14, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

2992 — with a •

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It's happened, just 10 days short of boj's fifth anniversary on August 24.

bookofjoe now ranks among Technorati's top 3000 blogs.

Maybe I'm not as useless as some readers insist I am.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who consider this site worth even a yoctosecond of your time.

Keep the great stuff coming: remember, the more interesting things people send, the less I have to do.

And that — not the hokey pokey (sorry Tech readers, but I must be truthful) — is what it's all about.

As my patron saint Kinky Friedman remarked back in the 80s in a Washington Post Style section interview, "I'm in search of a lifestyle that does not require my presence."

That one's in my all-time top 10 (with a •).

August 14, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Ambulator: World's first GPS-equipped shoes — 'Not all who wander are lost' not just a bumper sticker

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Though intended for those with dementia, these shoes — and their inevitable successors — will find undoubtedly find much wider application.

Here's Kathleen Hom's story from Tuesday's Washington Post Health section about the rise of footstep tracking.

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GPS-Equipped Shoes Keep Track of
Wanderers

Caring for a loved one with dementia is worrisome, especially if that person is prone to taking flight. Statistics suggest that 60 percent of people with Alzheimer's disease will get lost at least once, said Andrew Carle, director of George Mason University's senior housing administration program.

To limit the chaos after an at-risk person walks away on his or her own, two companies have teamed up to produce a shoe embedded with Global Positioning System technology.

Developed by GTX Corp. and Aetrex Worldwide, the shoe is dubbed the Ambulator, and it "tracks the location and movement history of its wearer, relaying the information to a monitoring center through cellular networks," GTX chief executive Patrick Bertagna wrote in an e-mail. Concerned family members and friends can log in to a Web site or receive alerts that will pinpoint the location of the person wearing the shoe, Bertagna added.

There are other GPS gadgets aimed at the Alzheimer's market. The major advantage of the shoe, said Carle, who's also a GTX adviser, "is that we're hiding the . . . technology." The idea is that a person with dementia might have bouts of paranoia but would be unlikely to remember there's a tracking device in his shoe and try to rip it out. Also, Carle said, because people with dementia often retain their habitual memory, they'll be likely to put on their shoes before going out.

The companies are planning to start selling the shoe next spring for $200 to $300, plus a monthly monitoring fee starting at about $18 per month. Some of the costs may be reimbursed by Medicare, Bertagna said.

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Below, a graphic that accompanied the Post article.

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Its caption: "An aerial view of Washington displays the route taken by a person wearing the GPS tracking technology in the Ambulator shoe."

August 14, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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